"The entire fabric of our day-to-day living, of our social world, rests on trust – buying gasoline, paying taxes, going to the dentist, flying to a convention – almost all our decisions involve trusting someone else.” J.B Rotter. 1970
None of us has ever experienced a pandemic, let alone one of this scale, and none of us knows how this will shake out. What makes it more concerning is that we don’t know who or what sources we can trust.
We’re drowning in information, the advice is conflicting, our politicians don’t always agree, and when there’s nothing to say, they make stuff up, like how it’s a good idea to inject bleach. We may well be prisoners in our homes, but we have not lost the function of our frontal lobes. Yet.
Regardless of how ridiculous some of this may seem, people trust people, and we still try to determine the truth in what we are told. Caution: If we don’t treat trust with care, the cornerstone of day-to-day living will be compromised.
Trust is a simple equation – you have the confidence in a person that they will do what is expected or you don’t. The same thing goes for brands. But it’s a more difficult one to crack, and most importantly, honour. When put under stress, the barometers of trust are put to the test. We become more hypersensitive and hypercritical. We spot insincerity in an instant, and after analysis, if it seems legit, we still question if it’s too good to be true.
To understand how brand trust is being impacted, Taxi Studio has been tracking the effects of Covid-19 on brand relationships in the US and the UK across several categories. And while there’s no formula, there are some fundamentals we should not forget, especially in a time like this.
Stop stock taking. Start taking stock. British clothing retailer, Boden is offering significant summer discounts (as is every struggling fashion house). Although the majority of us aren’t particularly worried about our summer wardrobe, at least they’re honest. Johnnie Boden states they don’t expect that clothes shopping is the front of mind. Still, they had already made the clothes and printed the catalogue before the outbreak, so if a new outfit is a tonic for some people during the lockdown, then win-win. Boden is also doing their bit by giving away nightwear and clothing via the Helpforce charity to NHS staff who can’t return home at the end of a shift as well as recovered patients.
Stop burying it. Start owning it. Everyone has had to adapt to new ways of working, and the transition is not easy. Homebase was quick to stay open for business online, but they were not prepared for the onslaught of demand. With thousands of customers waiting for orders that never arrived, instead of owning up to the fact they were struggling, they went silent. Phone-lines dead. Emails went unanswered. And social platforms were a frenzy of angry customers demanding answers. They finally opened their stores, but is the damage already done?
Start helping out. Stop selling out. How can we demonstrate we are genuinely helpful without covert profiteering? P&G are doubtlessly operating in the right categories in this situation, and they’re also engaging with consumers in ways that make sense. #distancedance saw them team up with TikTok social media star Charli D’Amelio to educate the importance of social distancing. 8 million views. 1.7 million impression dances, including celebrities. Not bad.
Finally, don’t forget to remember your existing customers. It’s great that Fitbit is giving away three months Fit Premium to new users, but what about their current customers? They get a little more content but still have to pay the same price. Is that fair? The further catch is that all your data is captured and shared for COVID-19 research, which most of us would all give in a heartbeat if it helps the situation but why do you need credit card details? Business is business but let's forget the smoke and mirrors.
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